Sey Hollo – Kombinat

Kombinat cover art

Artist Say Hollo
Album Kombinat
Genre Post-Rock | Post-Metal
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Release 31 May 2013
Rating: Solid

Being a solo artist is the best way to create music the way you want it. Nobody is looking over your shoulder, suggesting ideas, and making changes to your ideas; how dare they? It is also a way of avoiding quality control and running away with your ideas until the outcome is nothing short of self-indulgent and, quite frankly, crap. I find, and this is a massive generalisation, that solo artists are more likely to have a back catalogue of inconsistent quality than a full band. Simply because you have nobody there to bounce ideas off and trim the fat; a second pair of ears is invaluable when you are composing.

Kombinat’ is a mixed bag, but overall it is not an album I am going to go back to again and again. Bunker of a Bare Life is kind of grungy and shoegazey. The crunchy guitar brings the grunge, the heavily reverbed melody lines bring the shoegaze; less the wall of sound. The thing is, while it sounds good, it is far too repetitive and lacks drive. I would like to say that it is hypnotic, but it falls short of that. Cutting the track’s length would have improved its effectiveness.

“HarakaHarakaHaina Barakza” is a definite improvement. The syncopated riff that drives it is certainly unnerving. Once that heaviness breaks the track finds its feet with a repetitive part that really works due to the way the instruments interact with each other. Returning back to the original riff kills the vibe though; this is another track that could do with being shorter.

Now we hit gold! “Terroture” is a track that hits home why I like Post-Rock. It builds layers of noise and introduces melody and distant drums that build slowly as sludgy chords drone and tremolo picked guitar adds atmosphere. I find that music that can build around a simple idea is often the most affective and this track is perfect. If you have heard and loved “Weight” by Isis then you will certainly fall for this.

Marching percussion holds “Lusaka Funeral Association” together as simple chords support a spoken word sample that lasts for a good few minutes. Luckily things step up a little and the drums push the track forward while the other instruments play with ideas around a repetitive chord progression.

“Crowds at the End of the World” is the longest track on the album. I hoped for another behemoth of a track, much like “Terroture“, but It does not immediately deliver. I found the first six minutes to be tedious, but it is building a context for the end of the track which builds drums over a monotonous guitar part and then breaks into a crushing, fuzz filled, sludgy, droney section. It is another highlight of the album.

The album finishes off with “Jimmy’s“, A track straight from the soundtrack to a film like Donnie Darko or similar angst filled teen movie. You know, that scene when the protagonist’s world has finally, completely, turned to shit. It is a nice piano driven track that is a little out of place on the album, but still one of the best.

After repeated listens you get a feel for an album, but I am struggling to understand if I like it more than I find it uninspiring. The solo artist “curse” has reared its head and overall I think that there are too many moments that go on too long, or structural decisions that make me groan; like returning to a section that started a track when it feels unnatural to do so. The standout tracks are those that build on ideas and I urge you to at least listen to “Terroture” lest you miss out on one of the top post-rock tracks I have heard this year. I’m a real fence sitter on this album, maybe somebody can tell me what I am missing?